York & North Yorkshire

Directors quit over Kirby Misperton fracking delays

Anti-fracking campaigners Image copyright PA
Image caption Anti-fracking protesters have described the resignations as "great news" for their campaign

The chairman and senior independent director of Third Energy have resigned due to delays in the company's plans to frack for shale gas.

Keith Cochrane and Lord Gadhia said they were standing down due to "low levels of activity", including at their site near Kirby Misperton, in Ryedale.

Third Energy was given approval in 2016 for the first fracking operation in the UK since 2011 but is yet to begin work.

Campaigners have described the resignations as "great news".

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Image copyright PA
Image caption Third Energy was granted local planning permission in 2016 to begin hydraulic fracturing

Despite having its application approved in 2016 Third Energy is yet to receive formal approval from the government.

The firm had expected to begin drilling before the end of 2017 but in February began removing equipment from the site while financial assessments of the company took place.

In March further equipment was removed and campaigners began dismantling the protest camp they set up in 2016.

Earlier this week Third Energy was also told it must carry out three months of water quality monitoring before work could begin.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Keith Cochrane was appointed as chairman of Third Energy in 2017

Papers filed by the company earlier this week show that Mr Cochrane and Lord Gadhia, who were only appointed in September 2017, stood down on 12 September.

In a statement the company said: "As the hydraulic fracturing programme and further development is currently delayed, with resulting low levels of activity, the Company has accepted the directors' resignations."

Reacting to the news, Frank Kolenzo of Frack Free Ryedale, said the announcement showed there was "no appetite for serious investment in fracking in the UK".

He said: "From our point of view it's great news; it's an indication that there is desperation out there right now from a number of the players to try and get fracking moving, but we've seen all around the country... that the resistance is so strong."

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